Rochester 911 regionalization begins Tuesday

May 22, 2018

The dispatch phones inside the Rochester Police Department went silent for the final time this week, as the regionalization of Rochester's 911 system began on Tuesday.

Rochester joins Duxbury, Halifax and Plympton in the Regional Old Colony Communications Center (ROCCC), based in Duxbury.

The town's Board of Selectmen signed off on the 911 regionalization project early in 2017. Regionalized centers have become increasingly common in the state, particularly in the western counties, because of the increased efficiency in dispatching.

Rochester employed one dispatcher; there are three lead dispatchers at the ROCCC, as well as several other full- and part-time dispatchers.

The increased number of dispatchers make it easier for residents to reach emergency services. For example, if someone were to call Rochester with a medical emergency, the dispatcher might have to talk someone through CPR instructions while simultaneously trying to dispatch Emergency Medical Services.

With the new setup, a certified emergency medical dispatcher could talk through instructions on the phone while the dispatcher could send out an EMS crew.

The number of dispatchers will continue to increase as more towns join the regional center.

When public forums about the regionalization process were held in early 2017, Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee said the only major difference is that no dispatchers would be in the police station. Instead, the station will be staffed with a civilian on duty to meet anyone who stops by the station.

ROCC dispatchers recently completed several ride-alongs with Rochester police to learn more about the town.

Rochester's Police Department also received several grants from Massachusetts' State 911 Department in late 2017, in preparation for regionalization.

The ROCC regionalization project was granted $1,693,485 for upgrades; roughly $398,000 of the grant was slated to fund transition costs at the Rochester Police Department.

The money was used to upgrade police, fire and Department of Public Works repeaters (long-distance two-way radios) that are capable of reaching Duxbury with clarity.

The regional center's "computer-aided dispatch system" has also been integrated into Rochester's Police Department.

Money was also disbursed to place new computers in the town's fire trucks and ambulances and to place a video surveillance system, alarm system, remote door lock and buzzer in Rochester's Police Station.